Month: March 2017

Traveling to Tanzania to Give Photos!

 Yuliya Yuliya Boda

Yuliya is a Belarusian amateur photographer currently living and studying Multimedia in Prague, Czech Republic. She has been traveling and taking photographs since she was just 14 years old. She recently traveled her 36th country: Tanzania! She loved it so much she’s now made traveling to Africa her number one priority. GivePhotos sent her Instax film for her trip and she wrote, “Thank you for such a great opportunity, I’ve never been so close to local people during my trips and it was amazing to see a country from a different perspective. One of the best experiences in my life… I feel very inspired.” You can see more of her inspiring images on her Facebook page, TWINE photography

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“My very first Tanzanian model and the owner of the most beautiful smile”                               (Stone Town, Zanzibar)

When did you start giving photos? 

 I love taking photos of people and usually ask for e-mail addresses in order to send the photographs. I think the first time I did this was around 7-8 years ago. But these photos have been always digital. I believe digital images don’t evoke the emotions I saw when I was giving instant photos right after taking them. Many people from developing countries have no idea what instant photography is, and the process of «transfering» their image to a white film seems truly magical! Moreover, not everyone has Internet access, so giving digital photos becomes almost impossible. I’m glad that the GivePhotos project exists and makes these people’s days brighter!

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“Their father asked me to come later and make more photos. I have more kids and I want more memories like this one” (Nungwi, Zanzibar)

What motivated you to do it?

Emotions of these people who got their photos…. This is what motivated me the most. I knew I would feel happy to give the photos away but didn’t expect that my own emotions would be so strong as well! Sometimes I couldn’t hold my tears of happiness when a person was smiling and crying at the same time. This feeling is really hard to describe! I was also motivated to learn more about the culture of these people and the way they live. I’ve never been so close to locals during my trips to developing countries. I had dozens of conversations with them and we shared a lot of great moments together.

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(Stone Town, Zanzibar)

What equipment do you use and why? 

The GivePhotos project provided me with Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 camera + I used my Canon 60D together with Canon 20 mm f/2.8 lens. I like fixed lenses the most because they are really perfect for making portraits. I also think that a lens with short focal length is great if you ask permission to make a photo; there is no need to «hide» from a person you photograph and he/she doesn’t feel bad about being photographed.

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“I consider this photo my personal victory in making a grumpy person smile!” – Yuliya Boda (Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania)

Can you share one memorable story with us about your experience sharing photos? 

It’s not easy to choose just one story, but in Stonetown (Zanzibar Island) there was one man who told me ‘I don’t want to be in a photo alone. Please sit down with me’. So I did. He is the only person who had his instant photo with me, a stranger, on it! He was smiling so much when our image finally appeared and showed the film to all his friends on the street.

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(Emairete Village, Tanzania)

Do you have any suggestions for people who would like to give photos?

If you like this idea, just do it! Smile more and learn some phrases in the local language, it helps a lot to make people trust a stranger. Sometimes I heard «no» just because people thought that I would photograph them and disappear. So I believe what made them give me one more chance was that I was doing my best in showing them that I was interested in their personalities and stories much more than in making a photo itself. Spend more time with people, be a good listener! And believe me, it will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life.

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Her name is Norkerebot. She is 15 years old and married. Maasai women have no right to choose a husband. Their father decides everything. Yuliya writes, “I found out that girls are always more desired children in Maasai families, simply because parents can “sell” them to another family and get more cows in exchange for them. Moreover, a married girl is not allowed to see her mother after the marriage.” Yuliya says, “Norekerebot was very shy and it took some time for me to get her permission to make a photo. But she was very happy to get it afterwards.” (Tanzania)

 

 All photos by Yuliya Boda.

Giving photos in Freetown, Sierra Leone

 ludo Ludovico Alcorta

Ludovico is a PhD researcher in Political Science and an amateur photographer. Originally from Peru, he is currently living in Holland. His first introduction to photography was at the age of 8 when he was given a camera. He loved taking landscape shots, until he took a world trip with his wife and became interested in photographing people. Ludo became part of the GivePhotos project when he traveled to Sierra Leone for a conference. His beautiful photography can be seen @journeywithoutend

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Kadiatu Sesay, age 61, had the most beautiful designs in her shop, and wanted to sell me half of them! After negotiating for souvenirs, I asked her for a portrait and she happily obliged. She became transfixed as she watched the print develop in her hands.

When did you start giving photos? 

I first started giving photos during my wedding in 2016, when a friend lent me his Fuji Instax camera so that we would have some nice impromptu photos with the guests. When I saw how much they enjoyed it, I started thinking about doing it for other occasions as well. Then I read the BBC article on the Give Photos project, and I thought their idea of sharing photos with people was a brilliant way to connect with them.

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What motivated you to do it?

There are two reasons. First of all, I am a political scientist and do research on how certain conditions can create grievances in people that may lead them to perpetrate group violence. In my experience, one of the prevalent drivers of conflict is a fear of strangers, particularly when it refers to people of another identity. The more that people engage with each other, the more they are exposed to other ideas and cultures, and the less likely they are to develop this fear. I don’t proclaim it will resolve any conflicts, but engaging in meaningful conversations with strangers can potentially counterbalance this development. Sharing photos allows you to strike up a conversation and enter in dialogue where you otherwise might not have, and the bonding moment is permanently encapsulated in the photograph.

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Abu Bakar Ivitson, age 57, is a builder who carries heavy raw materials such as wood and metals in and out of the market each day. He earns about $5-$6 a day, although earnings depend entirely on sales, so there are days when he does not receive any income.

Second of all, as engaging as it is to take photos of people, the experience is not the same for the other person involved. Often they catch but a fleeting glimpse of themselves on the back of the screen and their experience ends there, whereas we get to look at it back home and share it with others. The experience changes entirely when you offer them their photo. They get to keep a memory of themselves and the moment you shared together. By giving back, the exchange becomes more balanced, and it makes photography that much more fulfilling.

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Life is not easy here in Sierra Leone, especially when living with disabilities. But some people are full of life and happiness, and this kid was one of them. As I was taking photos in the village of Fadugu, this boy came up to me and held my hand whilst we walked along the street. It was the most heartwarming experience of my trip there. I gave him the last polaroid in the camera, which he and the other kids really seemed to enjoy!

 

What equipment do you use and why? 

The Give Photos project was generous enough to sponsor a Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 camera for my visit to Sierra Leone, along with 100+ prints. I would carry this together with a Canon 100D and several lenses (18-35mm f1.8, 50mm f1.8) to take people’s portraits. After some time experimenting with workflows, I developed a system that worked best for me. I would strike up a conversation with a person, asking to take their photo. First I would use the Canon to take an initial portrait, then take a snap with the Fuji camera. We would chat further whilst the print developed, and I would use the Canon again to take any reaction photos.

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These girls were living just outside the former presidential palace in Freetown (Kabasa Lodge), where three coups had been staged in the 1990s in order to overturn the regimes at the time. Realizing the location was not the most secure, they had moved the palace elsewhere, and the building that remained is now a squatter’s paradise. Their father was slightly hesitant about a photo but the girls really wanted one, and they were fascinated with their image as it appeared in front of their eyes.

Can you share one memorable story with us about your experience sharing photos? 

Often when I would take portraits of children, they would run over to their friends and family to show them the print. Five minutes later they would return with a crowd of people, all hoping to get a photo of themselves as well. I often had to organize villagers into queues and recruit colleagues to take down names and stories in order to document it all properly. After a few days, I was known in the town as ‘the Snapman’. It was often absolute chaos, but a lot of fun!

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Fatoumata Elizabeth Kabia, age 16, worked as a textile carrier. She was very shy at first but when seeing the photos of the other ladies, warmed up to the idea of a portrait as well. She then darted off, but not before I captured this last photo.

Do you have any suggestions for people who would like to give photos?

Asking people if they would like ‘a snap’ is a good icebreaker for a conversation. By sharing photos, photographers who might be initially shy or introverted learn to take the initiative and engage with people. I have never done it as much as when I shared photos in Sierra Leone, and it felt incredibly liberating. My one suggestion would be to find a balance between sharing photos and talking to people, since it is difficult to combine them properly.

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This village was well represented by women. When we asked why this was, it turned out to be a Muslim village — every man has around four wives, so by default the ratio would lean towards women. This is a conservative society where the gender gap is still quite significant. However, the women had strength in numbers, and would often support each other’s views in order to get things done. Whenever a point was made about men needing to live up to their family’s expectations, the women would clap and holler together. It made for a lively family talk!

 

 All photos and captions by Ludovico Alcorta.